CHRISTIAN COMMENT Effects of too much change

Two months ago what used to be Shoot’s Garden Centre, north of the downs near Washington, became Squire’s.

Nothing strange about that – takeovers, buy-outs happen. It’s just another flicker of change, so that what you thought you knew, could refer to, isn’t the same.

For our older readers (oldest?) there are still memories of years that consisted of virtually unchanging events, where you knew in advance when to do things and when others would do them.

New school outfits were bought in late August after coming back from the summer ‘two weeks away’. Conkers arrived in mid-October and replaced marbles as the game of choice in boy’s schools. Christmas was celebrated, by-and-large, after the 25th of December – but before Twelfth Night – and the weeks leading up to Easter were chocolate free.

No, I’m not into nostalgia. That’s just how it was. It gave a framework, giving a certainty to look forward to, even as one was regretting the passing of the last event.

Now speed of change and novelty is standard.

It’s even built in: a current Sunday night TV serial with a huge following competes with a serialised insurance ad in the commercial breaks. Instead of following the unbroken dramatic tension of the main film, one is forced to attend to another ‘drama’ every ten to fifteen minutes.

Or switch off. Which rather destroys the purpose.

Does any of it matter? Do we need continuity? Do we need to maintain focus? Why can’t we just react to whatever comes?

Just reacting is perfectly possible, though I think that most people would prefer to have a purpose in life. And I would suspect that most people would also like to experience some sort of framework to their year. It must at least provide a sense of stability.

The Bible says that unless they do have a sense of purpose, some vision of where they’re heading and where their society is going, people collapse. The original language of that verse can be translated ‘Without a vision, the people perish’. Or ‘Without a sense of direction, people run wild’. Or ‘If people are confused about their purpose in life, they throw off restraint, become lawless’.

Take your pick of those.

But there’s something about human nature that suggests that if we don’t feel confident about the social frame we inhabit, we become disturbed. A bit like ants.

No wonder God describes Himself as ‘unchanging’, ‘faithful’ and ‘like a solid foundation’.

No wonder He sent Jesus to prove it.

Nigel O’Dwyer has just celebrated ten years living in Worthing – same house, same job